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Short Stories to Come Back to Again and Again
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Short Stories to Come Back to Again and Again

By kileyturner
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These are short stories that blow you away, make you think, and inspire you to write. They play with form, and they call to you again and again from their permanent place on your bookshelf.
Islands of Decolonial Love

Islands of Decolonial Love

edition:Paperback

In her debut collection of short stories, Islands of Decolonial Love, renowned writer and activist Leanne Simpson vividly explores the lives of contemporary Indigenous Peoples and communities, especially those of her own Nishnaabeg nation. Found on reserves, in cities and small towns, in bars and curling rinks, canoes and community centres, doctors offices and pickup trucks, Simpson's characters confront the often heartbreaking challenge of pairing the desire to live loving and observant lives w …

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Bobcat and Other Stories

Bobcat and Other Stories

edition:Paperback

At turns heartbreaking and wise, tender and wry, Bobcat and Other Stories establishes Rebecca Lee as one of the most powerful and original voices in Canadian literature.

A university student on her summer abroad is offered the unusual task of arranging a friend's marriage. Secret infidelities and one guest's dubious bobcat-related injury propel a Manhattan dinner party to its unexpected conclusion. Students at an elite architecture retreat seek the wisdom of their revered mentor but end up learn …

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High-Water Mark

High-Water Mark

edition:Paperback

Ten varied stories – many published in Canada's best literary journals – of contemporary women learning what they want from sex, love and partnership make up the debut collection from Bronwen Wallace Award–winner Nicole Dixon.

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Daydreams Of Angels

Daydreams Of Angels

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
tagged :

Heather O'Neill's distinctive style and voice fill these charming, sometimes dark, always beguiling stories

Heather O’Neill’s unforgettable novels, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night and Lullabies for Little Criminals, captured readers with their disarming characters and irreverent descriptions of life on Montreal's St Laurent Boulevard. Here, O'Neill's voice takes flight in a collection of original stories that evoke sorrow, laughter, and heartbreak. From the title story of a naive cult followe …

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A Token of My Affliction

A Token of My Affliction

edition:Paperback

Nominee:
2015 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Prize

These cheerfully disturbing, gleefully outraged, and chillingly beautiful stories break open the lives of apparently ordinary people who struggle and sometimes succeed in living without compromise, refusing to sacrifice the world they sense to the world they see, and where things can be true without ever being real. The range of this accomplished and poetic voice may cause vertigo, owing, as it does, as much to the Clash to Stephen …

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Glass Beads

Glass Beads

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

These short stories interconnect the friendships of four First Nations people — Everett Kaiswatim, Nellie Gordon, Julie Papequash, and Nathan (Taz) Mosquito — as the collection evolves over two decades against the cultural, political, and historical backdrop of the 90s and early 2000s.

 

These young people are among the first of their families to live off the reserve for most of their adult lives, and must adapt and evolve. In stories like “Stranger Danger”, we watch how shy Julie, though …

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Excerpt

From “Stranger Danger”

 

Nellie was struggling with an English paper. She hated the class.  Her professor had intoned at the beginning of class: “There are no right answers, only answers that you had to argue for.”  Nellie hated open-ended shit.  She just wanted to know which argument would give her an A.

 

She called Everett.  There was no answer.  He had no answering machine but he had call display and it told him how many times she called.  Right now if he would see: twelve.

 

She had been angry six calls ago.  Now she was just disappointed.  And horny.   

 

She opened up her political science binder, it was filled with photocopied readings.  She had to read about Aristotle even though she’d already read about him in Philosophy.  It must be nice to straddle two subjects with the same boring writing.  She went to the kitchen to refill her tea.  She was drinking green tea these days, it was supposed to fire up her metabolism by getting rid of all the free radicals lurking in her body.  She didn’t know what those were but Oprah said they were bad.  Nellie hadn’t lost a pound but then again it was hard to eat healthy when the entire apartment smelled like pizza.

 

Nellie padded into the kitchen and saw a pizza container on the counter.  She squelched a scream of frustration.  She opened the pizza box; it was sausage and pepperoni.  The top of the box was rimmed in dark where the fat had soaked into the cardboard.

 

Nellie spit on the pizza and spread the spit over the top of it with her finger.  She was closing the box carefully when the front door opened.

 

She looked around the corner as Julie stalked past her.  Nellie hurried behind her.

 

Julie sat on Nellie’s bed, her head against the wall.  Julie’s bedroom was the living room so during the day she used Nellie’s. It wasn’t the best situation but Nellie didn’t feel like giving up the extra rent money.

 

“So?”

 

“He’s ok, I guess.”

 

Nellie started small. “Did you have fun?”

 

“I guess.”

 

“Did you make out with him?”

 

“No.”

 

“Did you want to?”

 

“I dunno.  He’s so… bleh.”  Julie made a damn-I-just-stepped-in-dog-poop-and-I’m-wearing-sandals-face.

 

“Okay then.” Nellie’s disappointment was writ clear. 

 

“He wants to see me this weekend.  So I told him I work this weekend and then he’s all like what about before work and so I said yes but I don’t want to go.  He wants to go hang out at the park - what the fuck is at the park?”

 

“There’s ducks.”

 

“You and Everett ever go to the park?”

 

Nellie and Everett never went anywhere together.  It was her house or his.  Sometimes she saw him at the bar and she would wave to him and he would act like he was gonna come over but he never got to where she was sitting.

 

One time she asked him to meet her at Place Riel at the University.  She saw other girls meet their boyfriends there.  She had explained to him how to get there, walked him through the streets one by one.  He never showed up.  He told her that he made it to the University Bridge but then some woman give him a weird look which made him feel weird so he turned around and went home.

 

“I don’t like ducks,” Nellie replied.

 

“There wasn’t a single Indian in that place.  Me and a bunch of white people.   I felt like everyone was looking at us and I couldn’t stop looking at his arms.  He had this blonde hair all over them.  Like lots of it.” Julie made a face that she saved for the smell of rotten garbage.

 

“That’s how white people are, I guess.” How would Nellie know? She’d never studied one up close. “Was he nice?”

 

“He asked me if I liked being called Indian or Native.”

 

“Always say Native.”

 

“I know that, Nellie.  But I don’t have to answer that question if I’m with an Indian guy.”

 

Nellie wanted to argue from the perspective of diversity and being open minded but she was tired and felt nauseated from the smell of pizza.  So, they walked down to the Rainbow cinema where movies were three dollars on Sunday afternoons.  As they stood in line for popcorn, Julie laughed suddenly and sharply.

 

“What’s so funny?”

 

“I was thinking about the date.  You know when he asked me if I liked Native or Indian.”

 

“What did you say?”

 

“I asked him if he liked white or honky.”

 

Nellie rolled her eyes as Julie laughed at her own joke.

 

When they got home, Nellie checked the phone: Ball, N. had called.   She showed it to Julie who shrugged and then turned on the TV.  Nellie went back to her homework.

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Willem De Kooning's Paintbrush

Willem De Kooning's Paintbrush

edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook Paperback

LONGLISTED FOR THE SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE

“Powerful. . . . Full of dark nostalgia.” —NATHAN ENGLANDER

“A literary high-wire act, not for the faint of heart.” —ALISSA YORK

An unflinching and masterful collection of award-winning stories, Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush is a career-making debut. Ranging from an island holiday gone wrong to a dive bar on the upswing to a yuppie mother in a pricey subdivision seeing her worst fears come true, these deftly written stories are populated by …

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Dead Girls

Dead Girls

edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback
tagged : literary

Infused with eroticism, poignancy, and insight that cuts to the bone, these stories lead us into a tipping world of emotional wagers, loss and discovery, power and impulse. A marriage is tested as a mother struggles to cope with the disappearance of her prostitute daughter. Two angry women in a minivan act out their frustrations as they rampage through the night. A pill-dependent nurse juggles neuroses, infatuation, and exhaustion while supervising a high school dance-a-thon. A quiet tattoo arti …

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Excerpt

At the edge of the parking lot, a group of skate kids sat huddled on a low railing, hunched over cigarettes, their feet on their boards. Scrawny junior–high boys with long hair and baggy jackets, drawn like insects to the glow of the gym. I loitered near the doorway, gripped the metal bars of the emergency doors, indecisive. The open night pushed gently at my back, reminded me of cool sheets and the limitlessness of sleep, while waves of indoor heat, heavy with cologne and sweat, rolled against my face. The bass beat of dance music shook the wood floor, made the painted red and blue lines jump like pick–up sticks. The walls were alive with swirling coloured lights. My equipment bag felt full of bowling balls and rocks.

The centre of the gym was a dense and elastic mass of moving bodies, each back flagged by a thick black number on white paper. Small groups of teens gathered around the perimeter, their frames slouched and curved into apathetic question marks. Girls and boys sipped water from an array of containers: sports bottles, spigotted strap–on reservoirs, spring water bottles, thrift store canteens. It was almost too much, the relentless beat of the music, the careful attention to water fashion. I had just finished another double shift at the hospital, my ears trained to the quiet moans and requests of patients, my eyes on the keys to the pharmacy cabinet.

Up in the bleachers, the supervisory fathers stuck out like a herd of buffalo, sturdy ungulates in cotton pants and expensive sweaters. They were gathered together, mouths yawned wide in over–enunciation, heads nodding slowly.

I spotted Janet barrelling down the bleachers. Tonight she wore a rippling silk creation, a tent of a thing, with flowing, trailing pieces, all in a kaleidoscope of blues and greens; around her neck, a massive garland of seashells. It was either the pills or the lights playing off her fabric, but she looked like a giant tidal pool moving across the room. She opened her arms and splashed against me. The seashells scratched my collarbone, dug into my chest. She wiggled my paper hat, “This is great!”

Janet took my hand and dragged me across the gym floor. The heels of my duty shoes stuttered along the wood as I tried to keep step. She hauled me up the bleachers and I watched my feet as they dipped in and out of the alternating slats in a haphazard pattern. I was sure I would fall, take a header into the bleachers and be the first to require medical attention. Things like that happened to me. Things that made my face burn red, my saliva taste like lighter fluid.

The parents stood as we approached. Janet introduced me as “Mary, the single nurse who lives next door.” The pills kicked in and for a second the world tilted away, the entire row of parents tipping back so that I overshot a handshake and poked a rotund father in the stomach. I apologized and said something about cholesterol; he flushed with embarrassment.

I said hello to a petite woman with short, black hair and Scottie dogs on her sweater and my peripheral vision flared, a huge spotlight turned on behind me, my throat pulsed. I talked myself through the usual fears, I will not have a heart attack, I will not stop breathing, any moment now this will feel good. And even as I said it, the high broke out across my body like a prickly white sweat. Everything around me looked suddenly brighter. I held it together, except for the sweating – I had no control over that. I shook hands with my arm pressed firmly to my side and silently cursed polyester.

I had struggled out of my unit scrubs and into the white tights and traditional white uniform in the front seat of my car. A conversation piece, an ice-­breaker. The uniform was snug; I hadn’t worn it since the Halloween before nursing school, back when a stranger told me I looked good as a nurse, a compliment that led me to consider the profession. The costume included an old–fashioned paper hat and a “Florence Nightingale” name tag.

“Do you wear that to work?” the woman beside Janet asked, her finger waving in the air.

I shook my head.

I could tell the mothers hated the outfit. They gave me that disapproving mother look, the look that said, I was once spread–eagled in front of strangers with piss and blood and amniotic filth squirting out of my body, but this, this offends me. The fathers seemed somewhat more appreciative, though none of them appeared to be the skirt chasing, sports car driving type. These were men who had reached the fork of middle age and taken the high road. They were fact collecting types, men in comfortable sweaters and cushioned shoes whose lust for information, statistics, and useless trivia replaced a waning libido. These men were history buffs.

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